Big week in Springfield coming up: Friday is the deadline for bills to get out of committee in the House and Senate. On Tuesday the 10th there are two education committee hearings in the House and one in the Senate. There’s a lot of education legislation on the docket, and this is a crucial time to register your opposition and support by filing witness slips.Read more
Tax Credit Scholarships are Vouchers in disguise
Last fall, the Illinois legislature passed a school funding bill, SB1947/PA 100-465. (The Invest in Kids Act). As part of this legislation, a tax-credit-scholarship program for students to use for tuition at a private school was established.
Individuals and corporations can donate to a scholarship fund, and receive a hefty tax credit of 75% of their donation, up to $1 million reduction in taxes annually for an individual donor.
Corporations and individual donor have the power to earmark where there tax dollars are going, an undemocratic process.
Tax credit scholarship programs divert public funds to private schools. $100 million has been allocated for this program; that means $75 million less for public schools.
Money goes through a Scholarship Granting Organization which then directs the funds to non-public schools who distribute this tax credit "donation" to eligible students.
The Illinois constitution includes a Blaine Amendment which prohibits any appropriation from public funds to aid any church purpose. Since tax credit scholarships don't explicitly use public funds as tuition, they don't face the same legal challenges as voucher programs.
The largest SGO is Empower Illinois, which controls $33 million in taxpayer contributions. According to WBEZ, that is 74% of all scholarship donations pledged statement. 5% of all contributions can be kept for expenses. The biggest player in Empower Illinois is the Catholic Church; 77% of all donors statement have chosen Empower Illinois to receive their donations. The Big Shoulders Fund that has over $8 million in taxpayer dollars pledged is also affiliated with the Catholic Church.
Tax credit/scholarships programs are a stealth voucher program - an attempt to privatize our public schools led by Betsy DeVos and Trump.
SB2236 puts restrictions on this program
Legislation introduced by State Senator Bertino-Tarrant provides that if public schools aren’t fully funded that the tax credits authorized by PA 100-465 would be prohibited from being granted.
SB2236 requires the Illinois State Board of Education to determine whether or not the State has met the minimum funding level for the fiscal year.
If there is not enough money for public schools, then no tax credits can be used by corporations or individuals contributing to scholarships. They could of course continue contributing to the private school fund, but will not benefit financially from their contributions.
Students receiving scholarship funds for the 2018-19 school year will continue to receive the available funds.
The IL General Assembly is back in session this week, and there's an important bill on the agenda in the Senate Education Committee this Tuesday, Jan. 30th for supporters of public schools and the common good.Read more
Our statement on the "compromise" school funding bill which contains vouchers.
August 29, 2017Read more
Can you make a phone call before 11am TODAY, Monday, August 28?Read more
Raise Your Hand Action is deeply disturbed to learn that school vouchers will likely be part of a bill that’s supposed to address decades old funding inequities in IL schools. We ask that legislators who actually value public education and believe in the separation of church and state vote against any compromise bill that includes school vouchers. School vouchers have no place in a bill that’s supposed to correct funding inequity, as they will further drain dollars from the public good to private interests.Read more
This Wednesday was to be a big day in Springfield as the House was expected to vote to override Governor Rauner's veto of SB1. But now Wednesday's session has been cancelled because "progress" has been made in talks between the legislative leaders. A compromise bill could include establishment of a voucher program in Illinois. What can you do?Read more
Prompted by a group of 21 community and advocacy organizations, 34 legislators have signed a letter to Governor Bruce Rauner to urge him to keep school voucher programs out of Illinois and to keep public dollars within the public education system not to be diverted to private and religious schools.Read more
On Tuesday, January 31, we and our sister organization, Raise Your Hand, delivered hundreds of letters from Illinois parents and community members to the offices of Senators Durbin and Duckworth. Before the delivery, we hosted a press conference and a rally. Our message was clear: Just vote no!